Priscilla Ono has experienced a lot of full-circle moments in her life. When the Fenty Beauty Global Makeup Artist (and personal Rihanna's go-to) was just a 20-year-old budding makeup artist, she did what any makeup enthusiast would do—apply for a job at Sephora.
"Only a year into doing makeup, I worked there for three years as a cast member and color expert. It really molded me and gave me the knowledge that I have now about makeup," she tells ELLE.com. "You learn how to work with different skin tones, eye shapes and face shapes, and different types of makeup and styles—it takes time. I always tell people that if you want to be a makeup artist, make sure you’re willing to put in the time." And, Ono has surely used her time wisely.
This past weekend, Ono returned to familiar stomping grounds for the extravaganza that was SEPHORiA: House of Beauty, but this time she wasn't not in the background as a cast member—she took center stage. For the first time, Sephora launched an experimental beauty convention (think Disneyland meets BeautyCon) at Los Angeles' The Majestic. The three-story building was brimming with themed rooms and products peppered throughout, made-for-Instagram activities like Drunk Elephant’s psychedelic LED touch-screen room and Glow Recipe’s picture-ready watermelon forest, and master classes by industry heavyweights from Tatcha’s Vicky Tsai and Charlotte Tilbury to Mario Dedivanovic, and of course, Ono herself.
GETTY IMAGESKEVIN MAZUR
Perched on a tufted sofa to take a brief break from the event, Ono pondered the other full-circle moments in her life: She listened to '90s R&B group En Vogue as a teen and cut her teeth as a professional makeup artist by doing Dawn Robinson's face for a video shoot (where she also met her now-husband); she met Rihanna on the set of "S&M" and later joined the megastar's beauty empire. So, declaring the past year an high point in Priscilla Ono’s career wouldn’t be so far-fetched.
In February 2017, Rihanna issued a casting call for makeup artists to join her Fenty Beauty squad as the brand’s official global makeup artists. Ono, at the time 14 years deep into her career, answered and clawed her way to the final round where she earned her spot on the team of artists who would help Rihanna launch her eponymous label in September of the same year.
Just as Fenty Beauty is moving up the ranks of cult-favorite beauty companies, Priscilla—with 670,000 followers watching her every move—is becoming a star in her own right. In the midst of the SEPHORiA: House of Beauty mayhem, I sat down with the woman behind Rihanna's flawless looks to get the 411 on how to achieve photogenic skin, long-lasting makeup, and which Fenty Beauty products every beauty lover needs.
1.If you have dry skin, add a few drops of your favorite face oil to a matte foundation.
"I have dry skin so the thing I love about the Pro Filt'r foundation is it's not going to cake up on you—you can layer it and you don’t have to put too much powder on it because it has a soft, dry, matte dry-down. I like to mix a couple drop of face oil into my foundation. I use the Caudalie Premier Cru Precious Oil—three drops of it—and mix it with Pro Filt’r. Believe me when I tell you that your skin will look so gorgeous afterwards because you still have that longwear ability without your face feeling too dry."
2. Reach for finely-milled highlighters for a "glow-from-within" look.
"Sometimes, I feel when the highlight is too powdery it makes you look too chalky. I love finely milled highlighters because it gives you the highlight from within look, especially the new Fenty Beauty Fairy Bomb powder [out Dec. 7]. It’s the thinnest sparkle, but still so pretty. Rihanna taught me this technique where you take your shark tooth highlighter brush, then rub it into your skin. The more you press down those loose shimmers, the more sheen you give your skin. And, you can have a little fun with it: Apply it all on the tops of the cheekbones, on your temple, and maybe a little on the brow bone. They connect seamlessly on all those areas so you really don’t know where your highlight starts or finishes, and BOOM—you got the Rihanna super glow."
3. Don't Bake!
"If you want photogenic skin, less is always better. You don’t want to look too cakey when you have your makeup on because you can tell in photos. The less powder you put, the better. We usually don’t bake with a setting powder, we just use our Invisimatte Blotting Paper—it’s a thin, oil-absorbing, and a one-color-fits-all color that gives you that nice finish when you're a little greasy but you still want a glow."
4. Gloss Bomb doubles as a lip gloss and lip scrub.
"Gloss Bomb is soooo good. It’s non-sticky, the color looks good on everyone, it smells great and is hydrating on the lip so we—Rihanna and I—take the Gloss Bomb and use it as a scrub. The lip gloss has shea butter in it, so what you do is remove the excess product, take the wand and rub off all the dead skin on your lips. The shea butter seeps into your lips and makes them plump and really soft and kissable."
5. Masks are your best friends!
"Oh, I'm crazy for masks—it's probably my favorite step in my skincare routine. Of course, I have to have a good face scrub, but I love a really good mask that unclogs the pores. After cleansing my face, the Fresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask takes all the makeup out of my pores and makes your makeup look really smooth. Then, I need a a brightening mask and the Tatcha Violet-C Mask is bomb, it makes your skin glow because it has vitamin C in it. Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask and Tatcha's Luminous Dewy Skin Sheet Masks are also my go-to's."